When recent polling showed Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race tied, and the race became competitive enough for national Democrats to re-invest after walking away, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and his team said they were wholly unconcerned. In fact, last week, McConnell aides started passing around an internal poll showing the longtime incumbent ahead by eight points over Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).
But against the backdrop of public confidence, McConnell is so concerned, he wrote a $1.8 million check “out of his own bank account.” The Republican can afford it – McConnell’s minimum net worth is nearly $12 million – but it was the kind of move a candidate makes at the end of a race when he’s worried about the outcome.
It’s not yet clear exactly what McConnell intends to do with the $1.8 million, but it probably won’t be devoted to health care.
Two weeks ago, the Kentucky senator said he hopes to destroy the current federal health care system, including the state-based system called Kynect, which is working quite well. McConnell said it’s “fine to have a website” for a Kentucky-based marketplace, but everything else would be scrapped.
As a substantive matter, this was gibberish, and it prompted Sam Stein to press Team McConnell for an explanation.
[I]f McConnell was fine keeping the website, would he also be willing to let people keep the federal assistance that helps them purchase coverage offered on that website?The Huffington Post asked the McConnell campaign that very question the day after the debate. We asked the campaign the same question twice more that day. Then, we posed the question to them seven more times over the subsequent nine days. We also called the campaign twice. The campaign never responded.
That is, until yesterday, when a McConnell aide finally shared the senator’s full position.
Under the McConnell approach, the spokesperson told Stein, when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, everything must go – the Kynect website could exist, but consumers would no longer be eligible for subsidies to purchase coverage for themselves or their families. Medicaid expansion, coverage for young adults, prescription-drug benefits for seniors, et al, would all be eliminated as quickly as possible.
As a practical matter, McConnell, in the race of his life, is running on a curious platform: he fully intends to take health care benefits away from roughly 500,000 of his own constituents, leaving most of the state with higher premiums and worse insurance.
Team McConnell emphasizes, of course, that once the senator succeeds in tearing down the American health care system, the Republican hopes to replace it with something else, but McConnell hasn’t told anyone what the new system might look like and/or how many Kentuckians will be worse off. Working families are apparently just supposed to trust the longtime incumbent – he’ll take away their access to affordable medical care, but he’ll replace it with … something. Eventually. Maybe.
No state has been more successful in implementing health care reform than Kentucky. No senator is more desperate to destroy this success than Mitch McConnell. It’s arguably the strangest platform of any statewide candidate in the nation.